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Four months can seem like a very long time. And four months of freedom? That’s synonymous with never ending bliss.

At the end of exams in April, summer stretches out gloriously, beckoning us with promises of warm days, starry nights and every  other summer-cliche out there.

It seems a shame to let it all waste away.

The way I see it, this mindset produces two typical paths: one that features a calendar full of appointments and deadlines, and the other with a calendar of empty days.

I myself am guilty of the first. Looking at my handy dandy Google calendar, I can’t spot a single week without an activity or event that is guaranteed to require a lot of preparation. And while I practically live and breathe the “I need to be busy” mentality, I think I might have overstuffed my summer until it choked for help. Time to prioritize.

Perhaps my first mistake was signing up for a bunch of extra curricular activities and hanging out with friends while balancing two summer courses. As I mentioned before, summer school is tough in itself, and after living on campus all year, I forgot to factor in the hour long commute each way when planning May and June. At the tail end of summer school, all I can do now is shake my head and say “next time”.

Casting a more realistic eye on the rest of my summer, I’ve decided to ask myself a couple of questions about each activity in order to distill the remaining months into experiences that will be the most useful and important.

1. Why do I want to do this?
2. What is it going to add to my life?
3. What are the sacrifices I’m going to have to make in order to complete this?
4. How much preparatory work is this going to require?
5. What do I want to get out of this?

Answering the above five questions for each of the events or activities in my summer not only helped me to differentiate between what I really wanted to do and what I was just doing as filler, but also made me realize what I wanted to gain out of the experience, and my summer as a whole.

For those on the other side facing a blank summer, try something new! Get out there and experience everything the world has to offer.

Just, not all in one summer.

Image courtesy of Al Abut (CC by-SA 2.0)